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Can Gaming be a Sport?

Angel Serrano

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Initially, it may seem video games are a waste of energy, a simple mindless distraction that serves only to detract and waste time. Yet, competitive gaming is almost the complete opposite. First hand, I have seen and taken part in the struggle of ranked gaming. Like basketball or soccer, becoming skilled enough for high tier gaming requires practice. You must tune your craft and master your game. In shooters, map memorization, aim, and teamwork are essential to competitive play. In Overwatch, we see the fine tuning and quick execution of decisions. What happens when your team makes it to the choke point and finds a strong defense position? Should we attack backline support or focus frontline combat? Do we need someone to heal us, or an extra attacker to final tip the checkpoint in our favor? Questions like these flash by and are acted upon in seconds. With the Overwatch Open Tournament reaching a prize pool of $300,000, we will only see a more advanced and nuanced community form.

Teamwork is not always the focus though. Fighting games have had a strong focus on the ability of the individual. With a strong focus on tactical positioning, quick parrying or blocking, and punishing reversals, it is easy to see why games like Marvel vs Capcom, Super Smash Brothers Melee, and Street Fighter, have accumulated such massive success. Crowds explode as reigning champions demolish competition or as fights turn into rewarding underdog victories. Players spend hours perfecting combo moves and juggling tactics to prepare for tournaments, many of these professional gamers can even make their living off sponsorships and online presence. Of course, the $50,00 prize pools help as well.

Athletic injury is taken very seriously in the world of esports as well. Wrist injuries and destruction of fine motor skills end careers.  Professionals suffer many of the same tribulations of disconnect, frustrations and depression that football or baseball players face, once their careers end at the hands of injury.

Esports have quickly risen to prominence. The high energy fantasy battles have proven nearly immediately popular and exciting. Unlike the certain distance one has from professional soccer, basketball, or baseball, video games are close to home. With enough playtime and skill, anyone can become an esports champion from their living room. Games have already implemented global rankings and tournament modes to open the public to the professional community.  As prize pools grow larger and players become international celebrities, esports will claim its spot in the hall of mainstream entertainment. Soon names such as Tokido, Cloud9, Boston Uprising, Solomid, and Punk could become household regulars.

Take a look at this clip where esports veteran Daigo turns around a match of Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike against Justin Wong:

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Can Gaming be a Sport?